“What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.”
A major part of the Ironwood experience is bonding with the animals we have on campus. Every other week, students at the Farmhouse have the chance to care for one of our eight horses. Students at Frye may care for one of the mini horses, goats, or the chickens. Though caring for barn animals requires lots of dedication and hard work, the relationship you form is invaluable. The experience of caring for something outside of yourself brings appreciation for the life around you. Due to another being benefiting directly from your devotion, it allows you to feel pride in your efforts.
Although stressful, caring for animals on a limited schedule increases your sense of efficiency and work ethic. These skills are transferable if you plan on owning a pet at home. The compassion built while bonding with an animal could continue to grow throughout the rest of your life.
Upon interviewing students at the Farmhouse, I found that it gave the individuals a greater sense of purpose to care for the animals. Many found themselves developing an unexpected interest in the barn; some were surprised by how calming it was to spend time with the animals. Personally, caring for the animals allows me to feel like my work is worth the extra effort. Since the effect is tangible, it’s easier for me to see the impact I have on the animals and the community.
In summary, caring for others is often a crucial component in emotional healing. For some, it fills a void that they didn’t know existed. For others, it opens up their eyes to the feelings and needs of those around them.
We want to thank this level 4 resident for sharing this insight which is mirrored by so many other prior residents as they reflect back on their Ironwood journey. This young author has changed SO MUCH this past year…connected, at peace, smiling more and part of a busy community of like-minded people (and critters). Our new residents arrive in quite the opposite place, HOWEVER, on a parent tour earlier in this week that involved a Q&A with some new residents, it was shared (by the kids) that in their short time at Ironwood so far, they have appreciated the feeling of being welcomed to their groups and that “being at Ironwood isn’t so bad after all.” Today’s world, especially for teens, is perhaps more challenging than ever before and one thing that we can most definitely offer everyone is a strong sense of community and connection.
Perhaps with these resources alone, a young person can begin to start feeling a greater sense of meaning and purpose.
Have a great weekend!